No one can fill Thorin’s role on the analyst desk

Not hiring Thorin for the Major is like not letting Homer write about the Trojan War

Counter-Strike: GO's Icon Stephen Chiu · 16 Jul 2019


Photo: By Adela Sznajder for ESL

‘Chiu on This’ is a short and regular opinion blast

Today Duncan “Thorin” Shields tweeted it’s entirely possible he never works at another CS:GO Major again. As someone who spectates CS:GO tournaments regularly, I found this move surprising. Thorin is the best esports journalist and content creator, so his addition on any broadcast desk adds an increased level of coverage that no other broadcast talent can match.

The real reason I’m surprised though is no one else in CS:GO covers the same role. Broadly speaking, I categorize broadcast talent into five categories: hosting, analysis, history, insight, and filler. No other broadcast talent has a similar skill set or outlook on the game as Thorin.

His first major asset is his perspective on map vetos. While other analysts can fill this role, no on else has specialized in this specific area for as long as Thorin. He is the best at sussing out and/or explaining the psychological ticks that make a team veto or pick a map. 

The second is his historical perspective. Thorin is the premier esports historian, and can recall, process, and elaborate on decades of competition in an instant. No one in the entire industry comes close. This is particularly important for tournaments that have a long standing legacy (like the Major or ESL One Cologne). Understanding the historical weight increases an event's prestige, importance, and gravitas.

The third is his flair at filling. If there are bad games or tech issues, Thorin is the exact person you want on the analyst desk. He has a canny ability to keep people entertained for hours on end. He can minimize the bleed out of stream viewers when bad games come up, as spectators know he will bring banter in the post-match.

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The fourth is his ability to play the heel. While analysts can have debates and discussions on the desk, he brings a level of showmanship to it that no one else matches. He’s willing to make bold statements on the desk knowing it adds an extra element to the show. This extra dynamic creates a layer of conflict and humor to the broadcast that doesn’t exist without him.

The fifth is his vocabulary. There are very few people that can capture the essence of the moment and put them into such iconic words. For instance, I think the ELeague Boston Major missed out on having Thorin on the desk, as he could have capped the entire Major in four iconic words, “The Miracle in Massachusetts.” The only other broadcast talent that can do this is Matthew “Sadokist” Trivett, but he’s limited in time and scope as he’s casting the game and doesn’t have the historical knowledge that Thorin does.

Perhaps the best example of his wordsmithing prowess is the work Thorin has done in League of Legends in regards to Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. Faker is the most talked about person in the League’s entire historya prodigy that has fundamentally morphed what greatness means in the game. We’ve had years of talented broadcasters and writers, but no one has captured the essence of Faker as well as Thorin did in his video describing him as the ultimate outlier. It’s not surprising that when hype videos of Faker come out, they often quote Thorin’s lines about him.

When Alexander the Great visited Achilles tomb, he famously said, “O fortune youth, to have found Homer as the herald of your glory!” 

In the modern esports context, Thorin fulfills the same role as Homer did. He is a master at setting up epic narratives that aggrandize the greatest moments and players in the game. No one else in CS:GO is even close to filling that role. So while StarLadder will likely still be a great show, they will lack that extra something that only Thorin can bring.

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